Frank Beyer - Foto: Günter Linke
Frank Beyer - Foto: Günter Linke

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Frank Beyer

Biography and filmography


26 May 1932

Born in Nobitz (close to Altenburg)

Attends primary and secondary school in Altenburg until 1945 and takes advanced classes after the end of the war


Abitur, apprenticeship as projectionist for substandard films made for national education, district secretary of the Kulturbund in Altenburg, dramatic adviser and assistant director at the district theatre of Crimmitschau / Glaucha


Directing studies at the film and TV department of the Prague Academy of Fine Arts together with the later DEFA directors Ralf Kirsten and Konrad Petzold


Directorial debut: Wetterfrösche (Rozničky), a short exercise in documentary filmmaking

1955 - 1957

Parallel to his studies, Beyer does internships at the DEFA feature film studios in Potsdam-Babelsberg and works as assistant to the directors Kurt Maetzig, Hans Müller and Kurt Jung-Alsen.


Frank Beyer und Françoise Spira bei den Dreharbeiten zu \"Zwei Mütter\" (1957); Foto: DEFA-Neufeld
Directing diploma for Zwei Mütter, which is produced in the DEFA studios

Beyer shoots two short films for the satirical DEFA series "Das Stacheltier" as a freelance director.


Regular employment at the DEFA feature film studios. Here, he realises five acclaimed feature films during the following years.


Frank Beyer bei der Dreharbeiten zu \"Spur der Steine\" - Foto: K.-D. Schwarz
Prohibition of his film Spur der Steine. Beyer is dismissed from the DEFA studios and starts working for the Dresden State Theatre.

1967 -1969

Various theatre stagings at Dresden State Theatre ("Altweibersommer" by Gerhard Rentzsch, Shakespeare’s "Comedy of Errors" and Schiller’s "Die Verschwörung des Fiesko zu Genua") as well as stagings at Gerhart-Hauptmann-Theater, Görlitz / Zittau ("Um 9 an der Achterbahn" by Claus Hammel) and Maxim-Gorki-Theater, Berlin ("Der Egoist" by Franz Freitag)


Frank Beyer bei den Dreharbeiten \"Rottenknechte\" - Foto: J. Wioland
Beyer starts working for GDR television and shoots the multi-part films Rottenknechte (1970, 5 parts) and Die sieben Affären der Doña Juanita (1973, 4 parts).


With Jakob der Lügner, he returns to the cinema. The film, a co-production with GDR television, becomes his nationally and internationally most successful one and is nominated for an Oscar in the category "Best Foreign Film".


Beyer signs the petition against Wolf Biermann’s expatriation from the GDR. Manfred Krug, Beyer’s main actor in his film Das Versteck, leaves the GDR in the summer. As a consequence, the film is prohibited. After long disputes, it is publicly screened in 1978.


Jutta Hoffmann, Sigfrit Steiner, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Klaus Poche und Frank Beyer bei den Dreharbeiten zu \"Die geschlossene Gesellschaft\" - Foto: G. Platow
The TV film Geschlossene Gesellschaft barely escapes prohibition. After several programme reschedules, the film is broadcasted late at night without press announcement. Beyer’s next projects - "Franziska Linkerhand" for GDR television and "Der rote Ballon" for DEFA - are cancelled.

1978 - 1980

Mentor for the newcomer directors Gabriel Denecke and Peter Kahane at the GDR Film and Television College, Potsdam-Babelsberg

1980 - 1981

Beyer gets the permission to realise the TV productions Der König und sein Narr (script: Ulrich Plenzdorf) and Die zweite Haut (based on a book by Klaus Poche) in the FGR.


Frank Beyer bei den Dreharbeiten zu \"Bockshorn\" - Foto: K. Goldmann
Working for DEFA again, he shoots Der Aufenthalt (based on a novel by Hermann Kant) and Christoph Meckel’s Bockshorn.


Der Aufenthalt, the GDR’s contribution to the Berlinale, is banned from competition due to Poland’s intervention.


Staging of the cabaret programme "Auf dich kommt es an, nicht auf alle" at "Leipziger Pfeffermühle"

1989 und 1991

Der Bruch and Der Verdacht are the last films Beyer shoots at the DEFA feature film studios.


Beyer receives the German film award "Filmband in Gold" for his complete works. During the following years, he directs TV and feature films for, e.g., Allianz, UFA, Nova-Film and WDR.


Interview: Zwischentöne: Frank Beyer über Manfred Krug (TV / directed by Ute Geisler)

Portrait film Frank Beyer - Zwischen den Zeiten (TV / directed by Kurt Barthel)


Just before the beginning of the shooting of the 4-part TV film Jahrestage (after Uwe Johnson’s novel by the same name), Beyer is ousted from the project.


Staging of "Der König und sein Narr" at Hans-Otto-Theater, Potsdam

Beyer’s autobiography "Wenn der Wind sich dreht. Meine Filme, mein Leben"
is published.

1 October 2006

Frank Beyer dies in Berlin after a long disease.